How to Create An Estate Plan When You Have a Disabled Adult Dependent in Texas?
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How to Create An Estate Plan When You Have a Disabled Adult Dependent in Texas?

What are the unique needs of disabled adults in Texas? How can I protect the future of my disabled adult dependent? This article provides useful Estate Planning options for individuals with disabled adult dependents! Keep reading to learn more!

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Estate planning is a process that ensures your wishes are carried out after you pass away. When you have a disabled adult dependent who requires ongoing care and support, estate planning becomes even more crucial. It involves making decisions about how to provide for their financial security, healthcare, and overall well-being. In this article, we'll explore various estate planning options, including Wills, Trusts, and other considerations for individuals with disabled adult dependents.

Understanding the Unique Needs of Disabled Adults in Texas

Before delving into estate planning strategies, it's essential to understand the unique needs of disabled adults. Disabilities can range from physical and intellectual disabilities to mental health conditions and degenerative illnesses. If you're caring for a disabled adult who will need care after you pass away, there are several factors you should think about to ensure their well-being.

  • Financial Dependence: Many disabled adults rely on government benefits, family support, or financial assistance for their daily needs. You should consider how your estate plan can provide financial stability.

  • Healthcare: Ongoing medical care, therapy, and prescription medications are often required. Make a plan for how the person will receive care, transportation, and assistance.

  • Housing: Suitable living arrangements, whether at home or in a care facility, are crucial. This can often be the most fraught issue for those planning for long-term care of a disabled adult child. 

  • Support Network: Disabled adults may depend on family members, caregivers, or support organizations for assistance. Identify those who will help and include them in your estate plan. 

  • Legal Capacity: Some disabled adults may have limited legal capacity, which can affect their ability to make decisions and handle financial matters independently.

Key Estate Planning Components

  1. Last Will and Testament (Will)

A Will is a foundational estate planning document that allows you to specify how your assets will be distributed upon your death. When you have a disabled adult dependent, consider the following when creating your Will:

Inheritance: Determine how assets will be distributed to provide for the person's financial security without disqualifying them from government benefits.

Guardianship: Designate a guardian for your disabled adult if they require ongoing care and decision-making support after your passing.

Trust Provisions: Include provisions for setting up a Special Needs Trust (SNT) within your Will, which can be a valuable tool to protect the person's eligibility for government assistance.

 2. Special Needs Trust (SNT)

A Special Needs Trust is a legal arrangement designed to manage and protect assets for the benefit of a disabled individual without jeopardizing their eligibility for government benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid. Here's how an SNT can be a crucial part of your estate plan:

  • Preserve Eligibility: Funds placed in an SNT are not counted as a disabled person's assets for purposes of means-tested government programs. This helps maintain their eligibility for essential benefits.

  • Provide for Supplementary Needs: The trust can cover expenses not covered by government benefits, such as education, therapies, transportation, or recreational activities.

  • Professional Trustee: Appointing a professional trustee or a trusted family member to manage the trust ensures proper administration and adherence to government regulations.

3. Health Care Proxy and Advance Directives

To address healthcare decisions that you are currently making for the disabled person, consider having these documents:

  • Health Care Proxy: Designate someone you trust as a healthcare proxy to make medical decisions on behalf of your dependent if they are unable to do so themselves.

  • Living Will: A Living Will outlines specific healthcare wishes, especially related to life-sustaining treatments and end-of-life decisions, ensuring your dependent's preferences are honored.

How to Write an Estate Plan in Texas if You Have a Disabled Dependent

Now that you know the components of an estate plan, let's talk about how to write an estate plan in Texas. Follow these steps:


  1. Assess the Person's Needs: Begin by assessing your dependent's current and future needs. Consider their financial support, medical care, housing, and day-to-day assistance requirements.

  2. Create a Comprehensive Plan: Create a comprehensive plan that addresses the person's needs while preserving their eligibility for government benefits.

  3. Draft a Will: Your Will should specify how your assets will be distributed and include provisions for the care and guardianship of your dependent.  

  4. Establish a Special Needs Trust: Consider making a Special Needs Trust. This trust should be structured to meet your dependent's unique requirements and be managed by a trustee who understands their needs.

  5. Designate a Healthcare Proxy: Choose a healthcare proxy who is familiar with your disabled adult's medical history and preferences, and ensure they are aware of their responsibilities.

  6. Draft a Living Will: Clearly articulate your dependent's healthcare preferences in a Living Will. Discuss these preferences with your healthcare proxy and provide a copy to their healthcare providers.

  7. Financial Planning: Ensure there are sufficient funds or assets designated for the Special Needs Trust to cover the person's anticipated expenses.

  8. Review and Update: Regularly review and update your estate plan as circumstances change, such as changes in your dependent's needs or financial situation.

Additional Considerations for Estate Planning in Texas

Here are some other things to think about if you're estate planning for a dependent adult:

Government Benefits: Consult with experts who understand the intricacies of government benefits programs to ensure your estate plan doesn't inadvertently affect your dependent's eligibility.

Trustee Selection: Carefully choose a trustee who will manage the Special Needs Trust with the best interests of your dependent in mind. This individual or institution should have a thorough understanding of the trust's purpose.

Legal Capacity: In some cases, a disabled adult may lack the legal capacity to make decisions or sign legal documents. In such situations, it may be necessary to pursue legal guardianship through the court system.

Family Communication: Maintain open and ongoing communication with other family members and caregivers to ensure everyone is aware of your estate plan and your dependent's needs.

By creating a well-thought-out plan that includes a Will, Special Needs Trust, and healthcare directives, you can provide for your dependent's future while safeguarding their eligibility for essential government benefits.  

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